This week’s Ketchup covers movie development news stories that include new entries in the Dungeons & Dragons, Hot Tub Time Machine, and Mission: Impossible franchises, as well as the next movies from such acclaimed directors as Paul Thomas Anderson and Martin Scorsese.
This Week’s Top Story
TOM CRUISE WILL RETURN AS ETHAN HUNT FOR A FIFTH MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE
It may be difficult to remember this now, but there was a time a few years ago when people in Hollywood were wondering if Tom Cruise was a falling star, so to speak. This was the time before the release of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, back when there was talk of Cruise handling the franchise over to Jeremy Renner… permanently. Two years later, with a few more successes under his belt again, and no one’s talking like that anymore. And so, Paramount Pictures made a big announcement this week that Tom Cruise will be producing, and again starring in a fifth Mission: Impossible movie. Writer and director announcements are expected to follow later this year. One of the people that might be a contender in both categories is Christopher McQuarrie, a frequent Cruise collaborator whose second film as director was last year’s Jack Reacher (he also cowrote Valkyrie, and the upcoming Cruise sci-fi war movie All You Need is Kill). McQuarrie also made the news this week for signing a deal with Warner Bros to write and direct a remake of the 1968 Cold War thriller Ice Station Zebra, which was itself an adaptation of a novel by Alistair MacLean. The politics may need an update, but the basic premise is about a U.S. submarine crew that is sent to the Arctic under the pretense of a rescue (but it’s really a top secret espionage type mission). Tom Cruise hasn’t been mentioned specifically for the Ice Station Zebra remake, but yeah, they probably totally want him.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 SILENCE MAN, SILENCE MAN, DOES WHATEVER SCORSESE WANTS, IN JAPAN
After some twenty years of development and various snags, director Martin Scorsese finally has a budget, a start date, and a star for his suspense film adaptation of the Shusaku Endo novel Silence. Andrew Garfield, best known for his roles in The Amazing Spider-Man and The Social Network, has landed the role of Father Rodrigues, a 17th century Portuguese Jesuit priest who travels with another priest to Japan to investigate claims of religious persecution (against Catholics). The role of the older priest is still up for grabs. Earlier in the development of Silence, the actors that have been mentioned for possible lead roles included Daniel Day-Lewis, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Benicio del Toro (and it’s still possible one of those actors may yet land the other role). Ken Watanabe (Batman Begins, The Last Samurai) has also been cast as the priests’ interpreter. Location scouting in Japan is underway on the production which will start filming in the summer of 2014. Silence will feature a largely Japanese cast, and much of the dialogue will be in Japanese.
#2 MICHAEL SHANNON CHASES THE DIRECTOR OF MUD INTO BIG STUDIO TERRITORY
Sometimes, things just come together at the right time. In this story, we concern ourselves with two movies that might otherwise seem unrelated. Michael Shannon is costarring in next month’s Superman movie Man of Steel as General Zod, which is, of course, being released by Warner Bros. Meanwhile, off in indie land, there was the recent, very well received release of Mud, the third film from director Jeff Nichols. The connection between the two is that Michael Shannon starred in Nichols’ first two films Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter, and had a supporting role in Mud. Now that all the building blocks have been explained, we get to the actual story this week, which is that director Jeff Nichols will be making his studio debut at Warner Bros with a currently untitled science fiction chase movie (set in the present day). And, to make their collaborative streak four for four, Michael Shannon will star in the movie.
#3 OWEN WILSON JOINS PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON’S TRIPPY PERIOD PIECE INHERENT VICE
Joaquin Phoenix has been attached for a while to star in director Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel Inherent Vice. It was this week, however, that the casting of the other roles really started to take off, with three fairly major stars now being mentioned. It all started with news of Benicio Del Toro being in talks to play an attorney friend of Joaquin Phoenix’s character, a pot-smoking detective who in the spring of 1970 investigates the case of a missing/kidnapped girl. This was followed by reports that both Owen Wilson and Charlize Theron are also in negotiations for what are being described as “lead roles,” with no other details. Warner Bros is financing and distributing Inherent Vice, which is a return to the parent studio of some of Anderson’s earlier movies (specifically, Boogie Nights and Magnolia, which were distributed by New Line Cinema).
#4 ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER WEEK OF MARVEL MOVIE MADNESS
Maybe it’s just because Iron Man 3 made a ridiculous amount of money last weekend, but this was another week with multiple news stories concerning Marvel movies. The biggest of these stories, if not particularly surprising, is that Robert Downey, Jr. has started negotiations for his returns as Tony Stark in the The Avengers 2 and The Avengers 3 (the titles of which will likely change). What’s not currently in the mix is a fourth Iron Man movie (which if there ever is one, might feature a new actor in the role). Buried in that story are two more revelations that really should have had their own headlines, which is that Marvel now has scripts in development for a Ms. Marvel solo movie, and a revival of the Blade franchise. Sort of in the same category is the very brief (and buried) revelation this week from Marvel boss Kevin Feige that there are currently no plans for solo movies for War Machine (from the Iron Man solo movies) or the Falcon (from the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Shane Black, who cowrote and directed Iron Man 3, also made a big deal this week, signing with Sony Pictures for his long-planned revival of the pulp hero Doc Savage. Right here is where fans unpleased with certain story elements of Iron Man 3 can make their obligatory jokes about changes to Doc Savage (or especially his villains). Back in the 1970s, there were technically Marvel Comics featuring the character of Doc Savage, but as a licensed character only, so that today, Marvel does not own the movie rights. The other big Marvel story this week that many fans were talking about was the announcement by Walt Disney Pictures that the first animated movie from the studio based on a Marvel Comics property will be Big Hero 6, to be released on November 7, 2014. What got lost in the mix a little bit, however, is that this wasn’t really that big of a news story, since almost everything we currently know about the Big Hero 6 movie was already written up in this column back in June of 2012 as a Fresh Development #2.
#5 ROBERT DE NIRO TO INVESTIGATE CRIME TRAFFIC IN CANDY STORE
Robert De Niro has joined two of today’s rising stars in the Brooklyn criminal underworld drama Candy Store. Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, Guardians of the Galaxy) will play a former “covert ops agent” who discovers that an evil organization has set up shop in his neighborhood, and Robert De Niro will play a former cop who he teams up. Omar Sy from the French comedy hit The Intouchables is also costarring. Candy Store was cowritten by, and will be directed by, Stephen Gaghan, who also wrote Traffic, and wrote and directed Syriana.
#6 PARKS AND RECREATION STAR ADAM SCOTT (SORT OF) REPLACES JOHN CUSACK IN HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2
Given that the first movie was all about nostalgia for the 1980s, it was always sort of a presumed “given” that the eventual sequel might do the same thing for the 1990s. This week’s casting news doesn’t come right out and confirm it, but it sort of gives that collective guess some additional weight. Adam Scott, best known for his role in NBC’s Parks and Recreation, is in talks with MGM for the lead role (as a new character) in the sequel Hot Tub Time Machine 2. Scott was born in 1973, which sort of makes him perfect to play someone who was a young man during the Bill Clinton years. Three of the stars from the first movie will also be returning (Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, and Clark Duke), but John Cusack will not be. Steve Pink, who directed the first movie, will also be directing Hot Tub Time Machine 2.
#7 REESE WITHERSPOON TO REUNITE WITH HER WALK THE LINE DIRECTOR FOR THREE LITTLE WORDS
One way, we’ve learned recently, for a movie star to deal with an embarrassing incident is to make a few casting announcements. Reese Witherspoon made the Ketchup last week for the movie Passengers, where she will play a woman awakened on a decades-long space voyage by a sad Keanu Reeves. That story was last week’s “Rotten Idea of the Week,” but this one makes the cut as a (borderline) “Fresh Development” based on other factors. Reese Witherspoon will reunite with director James Mangold (Walk the Line, The Wolverine) for an adaptation of the memoir Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter. Witherspoon will play a volunteer who helps a young girl in Florida reunite with her biological mother, possibly to be played by Amanda Seyfried (in negotiations). The script has been worked on by Lewis Colick (Ghosts of Mississippi; cowriter of Charlie St. Cloud) and Michael Petroni (The Rite).
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#2 THE LONG WAIT FOR JURASSIC PARK IV… JUST GOT A LITTLE LONGER
Since the 2001 release of Jurassic Park III, one of the most demanded sequels by fans* has been a fourth Jurassic Park (*my old site used to track interest via traffic to preview pages, and Jurassic Park IV was almost always in the top 5). Those dinosaur enthusiasts seemed to finally be getting what they wanted when Universal Pictures announced plans for Jurassic Park IV to be released on June 13, 2014. The movie is still in development, but the wait just got a little bit longer this week. After a few tweets that suggested bad news for the sequel, Universal made an official announcement: “In coordination with filmmakers, Universal has decided to release Jurassic Park 4 at a later date giving the studio and filmmakers adequate time to bring audiences the best possible version of the fourth installment in Universal’s beloved franchise. We could not be more excited about the vision that Colin Trevorrow has created for this film, and we look forward to watching as he and the producers create another great chapter in this franchise’s storied history.” Colin Trevorrow previously directed Safety Not Guaranteed. We also learned this week that two of the actors who had met with Universal about roles in the sequel were Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village) and David Oyelowo (Rise of the Planet of the Apes). We’re calling this one “Rotten” just because it sucks for fans to have to wait longer, but if the wait proves to have been the right decision, then, yeah, obviously, it should be considered “Fresh.”
#1 WARNER BROS GETS TO ROLL A MULLIGAN ON THE DUNGEONS & DRAGONS MOVIE FRANCHISE
Back in 2000, Warner Bros attempted to start a new fantasy franchise on the big screen with Dungeons & Dragons, a movie based on the classic pen-and-paper role playing game, which proved to be a critical and box office flop. It should be remembered that this was before the releases of both the Lord of the Rings movies and the Harry Potter films (both also released by Warner Bros or its cousin New Line Cinema). The argument could be made that the first Dungeons & Dragons movie is to modern fantasy what any given pre-Blade superhero movie is compared to The Avengers or The Dark Knight. People just approached these properties differently back then (with less respect, the argument can be made). The 2005 direct-to-video sequel Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God was (in the opinion of this writer) better made, and a more faithful adaptation of the game, but the previous damage to the brand was already done. It wasn’t necessarily permanent, however. And so, Warner Bros announced this week plans for another big screen Dungeons & Dragons movie, with a script based upon the Gary Gygax game Chainmail (that was the precursor to Dungeons & Dragons). That script was written by David Leslie Johnson, whose previous films include Orphan, Red Riding Hood, and cowriting duties on the fantasy sequel Wrath of the Titans. This new Dungeons & Dragons project joins Warner Bros’ other adaptation of a popular fantasy gaming franchise: World of Warcraft. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Hasbro, parent company of Wizards of the Coast, is already disputing whether Warner Bros currently has the rights to a Dungeons & Dragons movie. And where do those rights partly come from? Courtney Solomon, the director of that first movie.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.